Dreamcatchers

 

dreamcatcher

Writing prompt:
Every so often a dream catcher must be emptied of the dreams it has caught. Who does it and what do they see?

My first reaction on reading this was ‘oh no, a bit of hippy dippy nonsense’. But, I let my mind drift and here’s what I came up with:

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“Everyone dreams” my Freudian tutor was saying, “if they say they don’t, they’re lying, or there’s something wrong with them.” “I don’t, but it’s just a vitamin deficiency, nothing dubious” I interjected, then realised I was getting those looks, you know the ones, where people are thinking ‘delusional’.

I realised the amateur mistake I’d made and hastily revised my statement: “well, OK, of course I do dream, I just never remember them. I haven’t done for years.” My tutor gave me an unfathomable look and wrote something down in her notebook.

Some weeks later, as class ended, a woman came in to speak to the tutor. Whilst chatting, I became aware that both were looking at me and nodding. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling so, despite being pretty desperate to go to the loo, I decided to walk with Therese to the station. Once there I raced down to my platform, catching the early train. It would mean a longer wait at changeover, but that would give me time to find the loo.

Opening my book, I was soon engrossed in Freud, scribbling in the margins and highlighting passages. Reaching my changeover station, I quickly packed up and hopped off, seeking a platform attendant to direct me on my now hugely urgent visit. Relieved, I emerged onto the platform to await my train, only to realise that the woman who’d been talking to my tutor was there and she’d spotted me.

Feeling more than a touch uneasy but drawing re-assurance from the crowded platform, I headed on down to wait or my train. She approached me, asking: “are you going through to Leatherhead from here?” I sighed, realising she’d done her homework and knowing that I’d have to trust my tutor wasn’t selling me into the slave trade, I agreed that I was. She offered me her hand and introduced herself: “Sarah Jane Compton, Sleep Specialist.”

We hopped on the train and she spoke to me about my dream recall, or rather, the lack of it. She was particularly interested in the vitamin deficiency thing and I told her it had been discovered during the years when I was seeing a nutritionist regularly. That we’d even tested it out. When I supplemented for a minimum of 4 weeks, my dream recall returned. But as the lack of it was doing me no harm and I didn’t naturally consume those food stuffs high in it (one of the B vitamins, I don’t recall which now), I simply didn’t bother anymore.

Sarah Jane was making notes as we talked, then our conversation moved more generally onto psychology (which I was studying) and my plans for the future. At that time, I had no fixed plan. I knew that the subject was one of great fascination for me, but I had yet to chose my specialism. Sarah Jane asked if I would be willing to participate in a sleep study – nothing arduous – they would simply measure my brain activity over a couple of nights and interview me on waking and later in the day. She stressed how helpful it would be and I agreed, subject to it taking place out of term time.

Some weeks later, I attended Sarah Jane’s sleep study where I was also invited to sit in on a few therapy groups. It rapidly became clear that the groups were for those whose sleep was disturbed. In some cases, it could clearly be traced to known trauma and the normal therapeutic options were providing succour and improvement. In other cases, there was no known reason for the deeply disturbing dreams being experienced. Children, in particular, were terrified of sleeping which was having a deterimental impact on their lives. One of the administrators had cautiously suggested trying dream catchers and – much to everyone’s surprise – they were experiencing a remarkably high level of success with them.

Whilst I was finding this entirely fascinating, I couldn’t help but wonder what part Sarah Jane saw me playing, when suddenly she came out with it. The dream catchers stopped being effective after a time and whilst they’d experimented with changing them for new ones, the children – in particular – took an overly long period of time to settle down with the replacements. Someone suggested that what was needed was for the dream catchers to be emptied. A few had volunteered, but as this involved viewing the contents, it had proven hugely distressing for some time afterwards and all ended up having to go into therapy because of what they’d seen. Sarah Jane wondered if I’d try. She was hoping that my lack of dream recall would make me immune to the dream catcher’s contents.

Unsurprisingly, I agreed. I did start to suffer from disturbed sleep myself. I’d wake up with a start, or wake up crying, or shouting out. Of course, I’d have absolutely no idea, no recall of why I felt the emotion, simply that I was feeling it – whether that be a terrible fear, absolute horror or terrible grief.

As this whole concept had originated from outside the box thinking, I decided to take a punt and suggest that – maybe – we should experiment with using dream catchers on those who lived happy lives and dreamed of pleasing things, you know, in the hope they’d provide a suitable balance? So, if you have happy dreams that you’re willing to share, do give us a call …

 

 

© 2016 Debra Carey

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#secondthoughts – Enid Blyton

enidblyton01

I grew up reading her works – absolute lashings of the Famous Five, Mallory Towers, St Clares, and the Adventure series, with bits of the Secret Seven and the Mystery series thrown in for good luck.

I felt entirely betrayed when my boarding school experience didn’t match that portrayed by her in Mallory Towers and St Clares. But with the wisdom of age (and hindsight), I wasn’t a happy teen and a vast number of my peers appear to have enjoyed the experience (although I’ve not interrogated them over how well their experience matched the Blyton stories).

Villified for her racism (naughty Golly) and her entirely hands-off relationship with her own children, is she a fallen icon, or just a woman of her time?

Much of what was written at the time demonstrated the lack of enlightenment that was commonplace. Racism and mysogny were so prevelant as to pass beneath the radar of most; certainly I’ve heard many readers tell of re-visiting old loves and being shocked not only by the presence of both, but by the fact that they simply hadn’t noticed before.

As to her lack of mothering, we are comparing her behaviour to the entirely hands-on norm we now have. For many at the time (especially those who shared her social background), children were not a large part of their parents’ lives. In fact, I wonder whether her books provide an example whereby ideal children display a terrific ability to entertain themselves, in a delightful twist on being seen and not heard.

Whilst the children do get themselves into scrapes, they are always together. There is a collective and that collective provides protection against the type of trouble our children face now. Is it that children are more solitary these days, or perhaps families suffer from a greater geographic spread and so we no longer grow up with a gaggle of relations.

Another positive is that character traits such as honesty and loyalty are well-regarded,  whilst lying and self-absorption are demonstrably a ‘poor show’. I’ll step over the gender and racial stereotyping for the moment and say that whilst she portrayed an older world, a more ideal world where the sun shone more, they provide a fun and light-hearted balance to the many excellent tales of reality and life in the real-world. As adults, we all enjoy the occasional light and fluffy read, why shouldn’t young children?

The Garden

floating-plants-experienced-together

The gardens are a testament to an unspoken social understanding of what is important. Sure, there are some things that are essential, and they get subsumed into the normality of living.  As naturally as we breathed we serviced the A/C units which kept our air pure.  As we ate, we made sure that the hydroponics units were up to scratch and operating in ‘the window’.

There were all sorts of frivolities that we could have frittered our (limited) spare time away on but, no, most of it was given over to getting the garden up and running.

We’d justify ourselves to Administrator Atkins with comments about how we were simply accelerating the terraforming process, or how we would be reducing the burden on the CO2 scrubbers.  Because of who we were, we’d justify it to ourselves, by saying that matter should be doing something!  No matter what, every atom can do something to fight entropy even if only in the short term.

But really it comes down to the fact that flowers, whether in spite or because of their impermanent nature, are beautiful.

 

© 2016 David Jesson

What Did You Send?

Whilst acknowledging the enormity of the US election result, here at Fiction Can Be Fun, we felt it increased the need for distraction.

Whilst acknowledging the enormity of the US election result, here at Fiction Can Be Fun, we felt it increased the need for distraction. So, following on from last Friday’s prompt, here are our fictional offerings …

From Debs:

Being a regular at Alcholohics Annoymous, he was often disposed to say “this too shall pass”. This Christmas, my first without him, when I’m alone because he’d been lying to himself and so to me, I’d have hit anyone who said it to me. But me, my future self, telling my past self this truth, actually that would be welcome. That’s what I need you see, right now, to know. To be absolutely certain that the vision I am creating of myself post-him is going to come true. That I will be strong and independent, happy and fulfilled once more. That I will look back and see the positives. That the negatives will no longer be painful. That I will have forgiven him. And forgiven myself, for loving him. That my life will no longer be haunted by the fear that I will never get it right. So I will believe I can find someone who isn’t just looking for that person to make them feel better, to make them feel whole once again. Before they take flight, that is. But someone who thinks “wow, isn’t she fantastic” and who will hold on for grim death, through thick and thin. That’s what I want from my future self, to know that I have a good life, one where I am loved and cherished, valued and respected, wanted not just needed or desired. A life where I am fulfilling my potential, not wishing I’d taken that chance, that opportunity. But where I am content with the roads not taken and where my current path makes me smile. So come on, future me, send me the welcome news. I need to stop crying, I need to eat from pleasure and not just because I’ve lost far too much weight far too quickly. I need to be able to be with people without them looking at me with pity or impatience and while I can’t get past this hurt, that’s all I get. I want to be able to laugh again, even a giggle would do right now. I want to be able to do more than put one foot in front of the other. And knowing that I will, in fact that I already have in some parallel universe, that would be the one thing which could help me right now. Because nothing and no-one else seems to. And that feels just so achingly lonely. So, come, wish me a Merry Christmas and deliver your message of good cheer, because me – that’s the one person I’ll believe not to tell me any lies. Just the thought makes me smile as I go to answer the doorbell.

Word count: 445

© 2016 Debra Carey

 

From David:

The dream slipped away: in my befuddled state I couldn’t tell if I was glad to lose a nightmare or sad that some utopia had been snatched from me.  It turned out that the voices that had penetrated inside my head were from the radio-alarm clock.  Sleep had not been a consistent companion recently, and as I wiped the gritty residue from my eyes (and, let’s be honest, the ooze of drool from the side of face), I tried to summon enthusiasm for a new day, new opportunities – and failed.  Shaking my head, I started to pay attention to the radio.  The news reader sounded hysterical: apparently people across the world were waking up to find golden envelopes in their post-boxes.  Everyone, from world leaders to the lowliest of the low.  No, not quite everyone – the very old almost to a person were exempt, as was anyone under the age of five, and a few others from all walks of life and of all ages had not received anything.  There appeared to be no rhyme or reason to this.

I went to the front door, and there, sure enough was a golden envelope.  I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to open it.  I knew myself well enough to know that I wasn’t sending myself the sports results from the last ten years.  Nor would I be suggesting investing a £100 at compound rates.  What would I send myself?  There was a part of me that was tempted to throw the wretched thing in the recycling bin and be done with it but, given the energies involved in sending this thing back to me, I felt that it would be irresponsible to do so.

I took the letter to my study, sat in my deluxe writer’s chair and picked up my favourite letter opener (wooden, hand-carved, with a pattern of elephants, from a trip to South Africa, since you ask) and slit the envelope open.  I extracted two pieces of paper.  One was a dust-jacket from a hardback book; the other was a handwritten note, which did indeed appear to be my handwriting.

I turned the dust jacket over.  The cover was a little lurid for my tastes, but the title was for a book I had been pondering over for some time.  It wasn’t my name on the cover, but it was a nom de plume I had been thinking of writing under…The plot summary had been redacted, but the usual trivialities by best-selling authors were present and complimentary, as you’d expect.  Surprisingly this was not a first edition cover, nor even the third, but a surprising and gratifying fifth (which probably explained the lurid cover).  Emblazoned across the cover was the legend: 1 Million Copies Sold.  I looked at the cover, stupefied.  I fumbled for the note, which was unsigned, but clearly my scrawl.  It said: Write the damned book.

Wordcount: 483

© 2016 David Jesson